WeedWeek, August 5, 2017: Jeff Sessions’ Pot Task Force Reportedly Opposes Crackdown

Posted by | August 5, 2017 | Cannabis News

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In Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis writes about the Department of Energy under President Trump. The department’s responsibilities include protecting the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The story is fascinating, scary and well worth your time.
 
Here’s the news:
Politics

N.J. Sen. Cory Booker (D)  introduced a bill to legalize cannabis federally. It would entitle federal prisoners serving time for pot offenses to a sentencing hearing and incentivize similar reforms at the state level. The bill has virtually no chance of becoming law.

Booker defended the bill in an  op-ed: “The enforcement of marijuana laws have too often led to a sacrifice of our values, our safety, and the potential of millions of Americans.”

Bloomberg says Sessions also faces opposition from Republicans for his views on the plant.

Rolling Stone has more.

Colorado (in a 140-page report), Oregon (in a 19-page report) and Washington have defended their state industries to U.S. Attorney General Sessions, a legalization opponent. Sessions replied to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) with “serious questions about the efficacy of marijuana ‘regulatory structures’ in your state.” (See the letter here.)

Sessions has declined to release recommendations from his task force on marijuana enforcement. “We’ll make announcements on policy changes when we have announcements to make,” a Justice Department spokesperson told HuffPost.

According to documents obtained by the AP, the task force, “has come up with no new policy recommendations to advance the attorney general’s aggressively anti-marijuana views.” Instead the report “largely reiterates the current Justice Department policy on marijuana.”

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D) wants Sessions to release the recommendations.

A new Harvard-Harris poll found 57% of Americans believe legalizing REC would improve society.

Politico profiles John Morgan, a wealthy personal injury lawyer and legalization activist, who may run for governor of Florida.

Trump ally and dirty trickster Roger Stone continues to call for REC legalization.

Also at the Politicon conference, Ann Coulter claimed “Blacks were about ten times more likely to lie and say they hadn’t smoked pot,” than whites. (A study found the opposite.) “Nobody goes to prison for possession,” Coulter added to boos.

Oakland has begun accepting business licenses, including equity licenses. The Cannifornian

takes a look at where things stand. Last year, I wrote a story about Oakland’s equity program for California Sunday magazine.

A group wants ballot initiatives to legalize cannabis businesses in several San Diego County cities.
San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley neighborhood, in the city’s southeast, is fighting two proposed dispensaries.

A Massachusetts cannabis advisory board is “in a holding pattern.”

MED legalization remains a tough sell in South Carolina.

Following a Washington Post report, Maryland is looking into potential conflicts of interest between MED license applicants and application evaluators. Maryland State senators rejected calls for a special session to discuss racial bias in awarding licenses.

Toronto’s Globe and Mail editorializes that the rules are not yet clear for REC legalization, with expected implementation less than 12 months away.

A South African pair known as “the dagga couple” are trying to get REC legalized through a court process.

Business

Kanye West is suing insurance companies for refusing to pay at least $9.8M in claims after he cancelled much of his 2016 Saint Pablo tour. West’s touring company says the Lloyd’s of London affiliated insurers claim without evidence that West’s marijuana use could have contributed to the “debilitating medical condition” and invalidate his claims.

Nevada gambling regulations do not address players visibly impaired by cannabis. Casinos are now asking the Trump administration whether they must file documents known as Suspicious Activity Reportsfor players known or suspected to be supported by cannabis businesses.

Nevada’s highest court ruled MED business owners can remain anonymous. A tribe run dispensary outside Las Vegas expects to be the country’s largest dispensary by retail area when it opens next month.

Regulators are debating advertising at the Las Vegas airport.

Lawncare company Scotts Miracle-Gro wants to be the leading hydroponics supplier to hobbyists and professionals. Its stock is trading near all time highs.

New Cannabis Ventures ranks the top public cannabis companies, U.S. and international, by revenue. Canada’s financial regulator offered guidance to companies with U.S. operations.

Canadian MED producer Aphria participated in lifestyle brand Tokyo Smoke’s $4M fundraising.

Puerto Rico thinks MED could help alleviate the island’s economic crisis.

New York doubled the number of MED licensees to 10, making business conditions more difficult in the state.

App MassRoots is pivoting from a “Facebook for pot” to a “review and consumer loyalty” app.

TechCrunch says software company Meadow is the Amazon Web Services of weed, “powering the back end of the THC trade.” (Disclosure: Meadow has advertised in WeedWeek.)

I wrote about cannabis livestreaming app Toke.tv for L.A. Weekly.

“A lot of the upstart companies will find that this business is not easy and they will struggle,” says Neil Closner, CEO of Canadian MED producer MedReleaf.

The Tyendinga Mohawk tribe is defending their dispensaries from a crackdown in rural Ontario.

The manufacturer of game ‘Cards Against Humanity,’ supports REC legalization in Illinois.

Arizona MED company American Green purchased the tiny town of Nipton, Calif., near Vegas, with plans to make it a cannabis-friendly resort. The purchase price was about $5M.

Buzzfeed’s Alyson Martin asks if you’re “Team Pinot or Team Pot,” in a piece on the frenemy industries.

The AP joins L.A. dispensary owner Jerred Kiloh on a drive to deliver $40,131.88 in cash for a tax payment.

Washington state has suspended leading lab Peak Analytics.

Vox’s policy podcast The Weeds discusses pot taxes in Washington.

A venture in Napa, Calif. wants to dig caves for commercial cultivation. They usually build caves to use as wine cellars.

WBUR looks at how opium profits shaped 19th-century Boston.

Health and Science

A study found heavy cannabis users to be calmer under stress than non-cannabis users.

The White House opioid commission considers the crisis a national emergency, but does not recommend MED as a way to mitigate it.

A study by Brightfield Group and HelloMD found 42% of CBD users stop using traditional medications like Tylenol and Vicodin. (Disclosure: HelloMD has advertised in WeedWeek.)

Martin A. Lee, director of the non-profit Project CBD, sums up new findings presented at the International Cannabinoid Research Society conference in Montreal. Presenters included scientists from the U.K., Israel and Brazil.

With the EPA refusing to step in, states are forced to regulate cannabis pesticides.

An Indonesian man has been sentenced to eight months and fined $75,000 for growing MED for his cancer-stricken wife.

More people in the U.K. are dying from ecstasy, cocaine and heroin overdoses.

New Hampshire lawmakers took umbrage with President Trump’s description of the state as a “drug-infested den” in a conversation with Mexico’s president.


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Criminal Justice

A Minnesota judge will allow criminal trials to proceed against two former employees of MED company Vireo who are accused of driving $500,000 worth of oil to New York to meet a production deadline. The former employees have pleaded not guilty.

The war on drugs never ended, Fair Punishment Project fellow Carimah Townes argues in Slate. Townes says it’s up to state and local prosecutors to end it.

Due to delays confirming U.S. attorneys under Trump, drug prosecutions are at an all-time low.

Acting DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg criticized President Trump for endorsing police brutality.

The DEA met with malware company NSO Group, which has developed products to intercept emails, texts and calls, and scrape data from devices. It’s not clear if the agency bought anything.

Mexican drug lord El Chapo, who’s awaiting federal trial in New York, accused Mexico of improperly extraditing him. With El Chapo gone, Mexico’s drug war has become even more violent.

The AP looks at whether churches should be immune from drug prosecutions following the shooting of two California deputies at a Rastafarian pot farm in Yuba County, north of Sacramento.

A Denver man who killed a teen who raided his grow, has been convicted of murder.

An aide to former Congresswoman Janice Hahn, pleaded not guilty to accepting a bribe from a Compton, Calif., dispensary in danger of being shut down. Three family members near Detroit have been indicted for allegedly bribing officials to let them open a dispensary.

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Culture

A Today Show segment on “Marijuana Moms,” attracted criticism as “something that’s OK for white people.”

The NFL has offered the players union to spend more money on MED research. Some league watchers see a cynical motive.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said it’s a “medical issue” and an opportunity for football to lead. The league’s chief medical officer said MED research is “really important.”

The group Athletes for Care wants the NFL, NBA, NHL and ultimate fighting to make room for MED useby athletes.

In Oregon, the upcoming solar eclipse has created unprecedented demand for booze and weed.

The building housing Vermont’s Norman Rockwell Museum could become a MED dispensary.

The L.A. and Bay Area transit agencies both tweeted dueling, not very good limericks about weed.

Here’s the WeedWeek list of pot journalists on Twitter and the list of cannabusiness people on Twitter. Both are works in progress. Recommendations welcome.

I’ve also created two political Twitter lists you can subscribe to: Real News and Tweeting the Resistance.

Want to reach a devoted audience of top cannabis professionals? Advertise in WeedWeek. Contact Adrienne Nascimento at weedweekads@gmail.com for details.

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Bye,
Alex

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